Lopez on pole in Marrakech
Jose Maria Lopez is still one to catch in Marrakech as he won pole position for the WTCC race of Morocco. Reigning champion in Citroen C-Elysee confirmed that he is in good shape and won the first place in starting grid and also won five points which are keeping him on the top of overall rankings.
Local hero Mehdi Bennani of Sebastien Loeb Racing was second with 0.255 seconds behind Lopez. From the third place will start Ma Qing Hua, while the fourth was Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente in Chevrolet Cruze.
After first round of qualifying Rob Huff, Dusan Borkovic, John Filippi, James Thompson, Gregoire Demoustier and Mikhail Kozlovskiy were eliminated, while the best result achieved Citroen driver Ma Qing Hua.
Second round was full of surprises. Hugo Valente finished just behind fastest man Jose Maria Lopez while the others qualified were Mehdi Bennani, Ma Qing Hua and Tom Chilton, but ROAL Motorsport is penalised because for powerplant changing, so he didn’t went on the track in Q3. Sebastien Loeb managed to take only eighth place, Yvan Muller finished as tenth, which gives him provisional pole in race two on Sunday, and veteran Gabriele Tarquni finished 11th.
It was a bit of chaotic session in the streets of Moroccan city. Chilton – who said he was cross with himself for even getting through to Q3 when he was only aiming for the reverse grid pole for race two – opted not to risk his car. Valente decided to go for a hot lap but promptly crashed, giving his Campos crew more work to do after his tough start to the season in Argentina.
The second part of qualifying had a dramatic finish, beginning with Tom Coronel slowing with a suspected driveshaft problem while sitting fifth with just a couple of minutes remaining. Norbert Michelisz was only sixth fastest but will gain two places when Valente and Chilton are pushed back.
And again it was huge disappointment in the Lada Sport paddock after all three cars failed at the first hurdle of the qualifycations.